New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors
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Throughout the regular season, the Raptors had the Knicks' number, winning three out of the four games played between the two teams. In the last game, played on March 15, the Knicks blew out the Raptors by 16 points, winning by the score of 88-72. Coming off a loss to the Knicks last year in the playoffs, the Raptors are eager for a playoff-series victory. With an assist from IBM's data-mining program Advanced Scout, let's take a closer look at the regular season matchups between these two teams.
March 15, at New York: Knicks won 88-72
March 4, at Toronto: Raptors won 98-88
December 14, at Toronto: Raptors won 70-68
November 25, at New York: Raptors won 79-75
The Key Matchup
The two main attractions for the Knicks and Raptors, Latrell Sprewell
and Vince Carter
had strong performances in the four regular season meetings between the two teams. Sprewell, averaging 21.5 points a game against the Raptors, was the Knicks leading scorer in three out of the four games. Carter showed what he was capable of, averaging 24 points a game against the Knicks.
The two teams' effectiveness depended on the positions of their two star players. The Raptors outscored the Knicks 104-95 (+9) when Sprewell and Carter played at the shooting guard position. However, the Knicks performed better when the stars played at the small forward position. With Sprewell and Carter as small forwards, the Knicks outscored the Raptors 88-84 (+4).
As a team, the Knicks played slightly better when Sprewell was at the small forward position, outscoring the Raptors 134-129 (+5). With Sprewell at shooting guard, the Knicks were outscored by the Raptors 146-147 (-1).
Similarly for the Raptors, they played better with Carter at small forward, outscoring the Knicks 130-129 (+1). With Carter at shooting guard, the Raptors were outscored by the Knicks, 158-161 (-3).
Although these point differences centered around these marquee players may be small over the four regular-season games, the Raptors did come away with a win in three out of the four games. Perhaps because of an effective one-two punch from their big men.
The One-Two Punch
The Raptors may have found an effective combination against the Knicks with Antonio Davis
at center with Charles Oakley
at power forward. With this lineup, the Raptors have almost been unstoppable and little the Knicks have done to counteract this seemed to work. For the four games, with Davis at Center and Oakley at power forward, the Raptors outscored the Knicks by an astounding score of 201-169 (+32), despite shooting 37 percent (71-of-191) from the floor compared to the Knicks shooting percentage of 41 percent (68-of-167). However, with Davis at center and Oakley at power forward, the Raptors gathered 25 more rebounds (122-97) than the Knicks.
NY Knicks Frontcourt
The Knicks big men have been outplayed, especially Marcus Camby
. With Camby at center, the Knicks were outscored 138-154 (-14). The Knicks have also not been effective with Larry Johnson
on the floor. With LJ in the game, the Knicks were outscored 138-147 (-9).
However, the Knicks were effective overall with Kurt Thomas
in the game. The Knicks outscored the Raptors 233-219 (+14) with him on the floor at power forward or at center. With Thomas at center, the Knicks outscored the Raptors 92-84 (+8). With Thomas at power forward, the Knicks outscored the Raptors 141-135 (+6), including the most recent regular season matchup in which the Knicks outscored the Raptors 76-60 (+16) with Thomas at power forward, and won the game 88-72.